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INNOVATION | 3D PRINTING


domain, with the introduction of AddLine Micro. This printer add-on allows the printing of moulds with features smaller than a white blood cell.” The company has moved its headquarters to a new facility in Copenhagen, Denmark. “The move allows the young scale-up much greater capacity for feasibility studies, showcasing, research and development, and much more,” it says. Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials says


Above: Arburg’s Freeformer 300-3X has produced a finger whose individual PC/ ABS phalanges are moved by joints made of soft TPE


particular interest to users who want to produce and test functional prototypes made from exactly the same material as that used in large-scale production of the end product.” Another field of application for components in


hard/soft combinations are automation solutions and production equipment, the company says. It cites a two-component gripper it has designed itself for a particularly tricky removal task in its own injection moulding production facility. The grip- per’s hard housing is made of PC/ABS, while a soft TPU membrane expands positively in the mould using compressed air. A moulded part can be reliably removed at an angle of 15˚, despite its awkward position. Another example of a compo- nent is a finger whose individual PC/ABS phalan- ges are moved by joints made of soft TPE. A potential rival to Arburg’s Freeformer is


Right: Parts made using AddiFab’s FIM technology


AddiFab’s Freeform Injection Molding (FIM) technology, but while both companies have injection moulding companies very much in their sites, the technologies they use are quite different. The Freeformer uses regular injection moulding pellets to produce parts free of the constraints of injection moulding, in a way not all that different from equipment using filaments. FIM involves production of injection moulding cavities using a UV-hardening liquid acrylic resin (called AddLine), virtually without limits on design, just as long as they can be filled; the cavities are put in moulds on standard injection moulding machines processing standard injection moulding materials. The cavity is removed from the mould with the part, and then dissolved. AddiFab says it saw FIM spread across the globe


last year. “Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials has begun offering FIM-as-a-service in Belgium, Japan, and the United States to provide customers with faster and more advanced injection mould prototyping,” it says. “In parallel, AddiFab has brought FIM into the micro injection moulding


36 INJECTION WORLD | June 2021 www.injectionworld.com


FIM, in conjunction with its Sprint (Soluble Printed Injection Tooling) rapid prototyping service, provides a unique alternative to the status quo in part development. It says: “Tooling has always been a major hurdle for injection moulding high strength parts. A design can’t be validated until a tool is made and the part is moulded. If the design fails or is modified, the process must start all over, which can set a project back by months and cost several thousands of dollars. Manufacturers need to find ways to validate part performance while reducing risk, cost, and lead time. FIM enables the user to print a single-use, soluble mould for validation of injection moulded parts.” The Sprint rapid tooling solution is used to


validate the performance of prototype parts before investing in production tooling. “This solution can provide tremendous value early in the design cycle because it enables engineers to work together on design and manufacturability without excessive cost or lead time. A typical part moulded using the Sprint process will take days (versus weeks).” Among major producers of 3DP equipment, 3D


Systems earlier this year introduced the High Speed Fusion industrial 3D printer platform and material portfolio, developed in a collaboration with major AM manufacturer Jabil. Products include the Roadrunner 3D printer, which 3D Systems says “is expected to provide the best economics of any high throughput industrial fused-filament offering in the market today.” It says the Roadrunner system is designed to address the most demanding


IMAGE: ARBURG


IMAGE: ADDIFAB


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